Thursday, April 17, 2014
Chapter Three: Devastastion, Part XII: January 2010
Please begin reading my divorce memoir from the beginning.
25 January 2010
We went together to see the counselor. I told Jerry I want someone with a PhD this time and this guy, Dr. Williams, has that. He seems to have my husband pegged, too.
He asked us if we knew what the term “mensch” meant. I nodded. I said it’s a Yiddish term for a good guy. He told us a mensch means so much more than that.
He said, “It’s a term for a man who has integrity, who would have an almost noble character. A mensch is someone with admirable qualities and characteristics. You can count on him. He is dependable and compassionate.” He said a lot of other flowery words, too. I can’t remember them all.
Then he asked us, “How many men do you think, percentage-wise, there are in the world who are mensches?”
We both thought for a second. My husband said, “Ninety percent?”
I said, “This might be high, but I’ll say five percent,” but I really wanted to say three percent.
The counselor pointed at me, then tapped his nose with his same pointer finger. “Five percent,” he confirmed my answer.
He carried on with the query. “Have you ever heard of the term ‘schmuck?’”
I tried to hide my smile and said, “I know what it literally means, but I think you’re going for a guy who is a jerk.”
He said, “Yes, that’s right.” Then he turned to my husband and bluntly asked, “Which do you think you are?”
I couldn’t believe he said that to him! I just sat there and stared ahead. I didn’t want Jerry to think I had anything to do with this line of questioning. He would think I was in cahoots with Dr. W.
“Well, I’m guessing the answer isn’t mensch,” my husband said as he crossed one leg over the other in a defensive and defiant pose. I hate that posture. If he was sitting in an arm chair he would have spread out his arms over the top of the chair as if to challenge the man. As if to say, “Give me your best shot.”
As it were, we were sitting on a cushy soft couch with cushions that enveloped us as we sat on them. My feet barely touched the floor. Jerry just shrank into the couch and couldn’t sit up. It was quite comical.
“And why do you think you’re not a mensch?” The counselor accepted his challenge.
There was a lot of uncrossing and crossing of legs as the man sitting next to me tried to buy time for his thoughts. “Why don’t you tell me,” was the strategy he came up with. Too much testosterone in the room for me.
“I think you know the answer,” was all Dr. W. came back with.
I really like the counselor. As with all other therapists we had been to in the last fifteen years, this one seemed to be on my side. That’s why my husband would never go more than twice or three times.
This was Jerry’s second, and probably his last, visit. I might come back if I see the need to stir up my abusive past out of the ashes of my soul. I really didn’t tell Dr. W. much of anything. I dislike telling my story so much. I just had to regurgitate it to the bishop and stake president. Now, to tell another man? I’d have to bide my time.
Dr.W. went on to making lists. This is the part where I make a list of things that I would like to see changed in Jerry and he makes a list about things I have to change. Only this time, it’s different.
“You don’t make a list,” he told my husband as he pointed at him and shook his finger slowly.
“Why not?” Jerry whined.
“Because you are the one who has to change in this situation,” he told him. “You are the one who committed adultery. You are the one who betrayed your wife. I think there might be some things you will have to change, don’t you agree?”
Now I knew for sure Jerry would never go back to this counselor. If there’s one thing Jerry had probably already done, it was make a list of the things I would have to change about myself so he would be able to live with me. I knew the list by heart. He reiterated it every time we had a fight.
I have to lose weight because I’ve let myself go ever since the children were born; I have to learn to not criticize him; I have to stop spending his hard-earned money and get on the same page with him; I have to get a full-time job so I can carry my weight; I have to try harder to be a good wife.
The list goes on but that’s the gist of it.
My comebacks were never recognized. When I went to a weight loss company, I was told, after I lost twelve pounds, that I shouldn’t lose any more weight. At my age, it wasn’t healthy. I was in my forties then and probably staring at peri-menopause.
When I told Jerry, he said, “Who do they think they are? Weight experts?” I couldn’t believe he actually said that.
When I went back to the company and said my husband wants me to lose ten more pounds, they told me they couldn’t be responsible and I was told to go home and be happy with the weight loss I had achieved. I got compliments from everyone about how, after having four children, I could be so thin. My youngest was five years old.
No compliments ever came from him. He just changed his admonition to, “You need to be more toned.”
He criticized me just as soon as look at me on most days. Once I told him he hurt my feelings, so he made a pact with me that he wouldn’t criticize me anymore and I couldn’t criticize him. He loves to make pacts. I agreed. The next day he criticized me. The next day. When I called him on it, he said, “That’s not a criticism. It’s a fact.” Ludicrous.
One time he shook the credit card bill in my face and yelled at me that I had to stop spending so much. He didn’t expect me to grab the statement right out of his hand to look it over. He kept groping for it, but I wouldn’t let him have it.
There were only a few things on the statement that were mine: sixty dollars for shoes for the kids and a hundred dollars for groceries. It was a fifteen-hundred dollar bill. There were receipts for items for his new pool table and his new sports car we couldn’t afford but he had to have. He bought that car against my wishes, using half of our savings.
I had several part-time jobs, but last summer I was moved to full-time at the dementia community. He still wanted me to look for another, more lucrative job. When I reminded him I didn’t have a college degree, he wouldn’t accept the excuse. He said he has told me since we got married that I should go back and get my degree.
I gasped at that. He has never said anything about me going back to school—ever—in the whole time we’ve been married. Never. Ever. I would faint dead away if he did because it costs money—his hard-earned money. I can’t believe he said that. It’s probably a lie he’s been telling other people and he forgot who he was talking to.
So, as I sat there tonight in Dr. W.’s office, I just kept thinking that I’ve been through this so many times and it all seems so farcical and hopeless. Jerry is never going to change. He has so much anger for me. Even tonight, as we sat on that cushy couch, he kept telling Dr. Williams about my shortcomings. I turned my face away; tears streamed down my cheeks.
After his diatribe, I asked Jerry why he would possibly want to stay married to me, since, according to him, I have no redeeming qualities. He can’t seem to stand me.
He paused, looked at Dr. W. and said, “I don’t know how to answer that,” hoping Dr. W. would give him some reason.
Dr. W. went through this flowery speech about how he should have responded to my question. I almost laughed. That ain’t gonna’ happen.
The only reason he wants to stay married to me is because of money. He doesn’t even care about the kids. He just doesn’t want them to know what he did. And I don’t want to tell them either. They would lose all their respect for him. They might lose their testimony.
Their father was the bishop of our ward and he is in the bishopric right now, though I don’t know how long that’s going to last. How can somebody who’s been bishop do these awful things? If my testimony wasn’t so solid, I might question, too.
But I know the gospel is true. My husband is a liar—a poser.
Dr. Williams had to give him an example of a way to answer me. It didn’t sound like Jerry at all. It was too respectful. Again, hopeless. I could read Jerry’s thoughts. “She doesn’t deserve that.”
So Dr. Williams wants me to make a list of things I would like to see Jerry try to change.
Where do I start?
Intellectually I know this will never happen, but I will comply. I promised the stake president.
Jerry has a deep-seated resentment of his father. His father put him down. I don’t know if that’s the whole foundation of his problem, or if he’s just innately mentally ill. He’s hyper-active, impulsive, compulsive, obsessive, oppositional-defiant, manipulative. He’s a liar, a cheater, emotionally unable to be intimate, unfaithful, insensitive...he has road rage, he has anger, he has an inferiority complex.
Tonight he asked me what it is I want him to do. Can he change all those ‘qualities’ above?
He sees himself as being a good person. He goes to work, he earns a living, he works around the house, he takes out the trash, he does the dishes, etc. The housework part is what he’s taken over because he does it better, in his opinion. I don’t do it well enough, so he has to do it. So I gave up trying to please him. Let him do it. He has to be in control. Fine with me. I’ve lost my identity anyway. He might as well have mine, too.
He wants me to be grateful he’s doing it. I wish I could be grateful. But even doing these things is a put down to me.
“Oh, thank you, honey, for doing this for me because I don’t do it well enough. I love you. You’re my hero.” Seriously. That’s what he wants me to do and say.